Elliott Sadler Survives Pocono Death Trap: Jimmie Johnson Says I'm Sorry

David YeazellSenior Analyst IAugust 1, 2010

LONG POND, PA - AUGUST 01:  The wrecked #19 Air Force Ford, driven by Elliott Sadler, gets towed through the garage area after he hit the wall in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway on August 1, 2010 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

Jimmie Johnson said he was bump drafting Kurt Busch, like Busch wanted.

ESPN announcer Dale Jarrett said Johnson didn’t mean to bump draft.

How does a driver bump draft, but not mean to bump draft?

Barreling down the front stretch, mixing it up with Busch and Clint Bowyer, Johnson ran up behind Busch, and as he said, intended to bump draft, like Busch wanted him to do.

A four-time champion should know two things in this situation. Bump drafting is intentional, and bump drafting while changing lanes, (Johnson was moving left when he hit Busch), is not bump drafting at all—it’s crashing the other driver.

The end result of Johnson’s veiled bump drafting was Busch taking a hard right turn into the wall, on a straightaway, and Johnson moving on.

The ripple effects of Johnson’s unintentional bump drafting were a few other cars checking up and taking evasive action to avoid the unfolding crash.

While the car of Kurt Busch was all but destroyed, it was the No.19 of Elliott Sadler that suffered the most.

After checking up to avoid the crash, Sadler’s car was hit from behind A.J. Allmendinger and catapulted across the infield grass.

Sadler’s car crashed head-on into the pocket of an L-shaped infield barrier. The resulting impact caused the complete front end of Sadler’s car to dislodge, ripping the engine from its mounting bolts and slinging it across the track.

Johnson did say on the radio that he might have caused that and to tell those guys he was sorry.

"Sorry" should be the adjective used to describe Johnson’s driving. The four time champion has been vocal, and critical, on the radio, and in the media, many times before about how other drivers take too many chances when racing close to him. His latest well publicized issues were with his teammate and boss Jeff Gordon.

Those complaints obviously fall on deaf ears when it comes to Johnson being the aggressor.

"Sorry" could also be used to describe how Pocono Raceway and the Mattiolli’s have handled the multiple safety issues surrounding the tricky triangle.

Just over six weeks ago, during Pocono’s June race, Kasey Kahne was involved in a late race incident that saw his car getting airborne. The absence of a catch fence allowed Kahne’s car to fly into the trees surrounding the raceway.

Pocono President Brandon Igdalsky has promised the track will make some changes and upgrades to address the safety issues. He also stated that most of these changes would have to take place after the second race because of such a short time in between events. Both races at Pocono are held just six short weeks apart.

There is speculation that NASCAR has already decided on its schedule for next year.

If they have not, then one issue they should take into consideration is the fact that a short turnaround between events can place severe limitations on any issues involving the sport, especially safety issues.

Pocono has the shortest amount of time between events of all the tracks that host multiple races.

If NASCAR has already finalized next year’s schedule, then there is plenty of time to take these safety issues and time constraints under advisement for the 2012 season.

Johnson’s actions single handedly wiped out three of the four cars fielded by Richard Petty Motorsports.

In this case NASCAR’s dedication to safety in the cars is what might have saved Elliott Sadler’s life.

Pocono’s lack of action, for the second time in a row, almost caused a tragedy.